Posted at 11:32 AM on October 15, 2007
by Sanden Totten
It's an awesome feeling when you find out something you love to do is also really really good for you. That's how it was for me with eating curry and doing crossword puzzles. Both I love to do, and both boost your brain.
Well, it looks like I can add video games to that list.
Thanks to a Japanese neuroscientist, I may soon be playing Nintendo DS while mulling over crossword clues at an Indian Buffet. That is, if Brain Age lives up to the hype.
Brain Age is a hand-held game developed specifically to sharpen your wits. In it, you do a series of synapse twisters that activate large sections of your brain. Stuff like quick calculations, word recall and even a Stroop test. Based on your results, the game calculates your Brain Age - the age that best reflects the agility of your spongy thinking lump. The goal is to lower your Brain Age as you get better at solving the puzzles.
Apparently it's highly addictive, and in Japan, adults are eating it up. In America the game's makers have shied away from making any big claims about the game's benefits, but certain kinds puzzles are known to decrease one's risk of Alzheimer's.
The clever folks at Nintendo even had the bright idea of sending a copy of the game to President Bush for his 60th Birthday. They included a letter where they advise the President "don't worry, turning 60 is an exciting milestone," and that "like many boomers, you may be looking for ways to keep your mind sharp."
They even personalize it a bit to suggest how our Commander in Chief might integrate a little game play into his life:
"It's obvious you don't have a lot of time to play games, which makes Brain Age such a great activity for you - just a few minutes a day with more than 15 daily training tests will help keep your mind sharp . . . these could make your next long flight on Air Force One a bit more fun! (Perhaps copies of Brain Age for journalists joining you on your next flight would be a nice distraction!)"
Great idea Nintendo! Distract the journalists with free video games. What better way to keep them from poking around where they are not supposed to than getting them hooked on puzzles. At least their minds will be razor sharp. And it won't leave them with curry breath either.